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James Isbister

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James Isbister, 27, became the first British civilian to be killed by a German bomb during World War II on March 16, 1940, when his house in the Orkney Islands was hit during a raid by Luftwaffe aircraft on the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow, a protected anchorage where the fleet was held to keep it safe from attack by sea.

He had lived in the village of Bridge of Waithe, on the shores of Loch Stenness, with a wife and infant son. He had been standing in the doorway of his home, apparently just about to run to a neichbour's house which had already suffered bomb damage, when one of the German aircraft that had turned tail from the raid dropped 19 bombs, wounding seven civilians and killing James Isbister.[1]

According to an Admiralty communiqué issued at the time, the raid on Scapa Flow began at 7.50 pm local time: "About 14 enemy aircraft reached the objective. A considerable number of bombs was dropped, one hitting a warship [(HMS Norfolk) which sustained only minor damage." Six crew were reported killed in the raid, and seven injured.

None of the enemy aircraft was shot down, although several were claimed to have been damaged in fights with the RAF.

This had been the first raid on Scapa Flow since October 17, when the old battleship Iron Duke had been hit.


1 16 March 1940 Retrieved April 08, 2013.

  • Luftwaffe Over Scotland, by Les Taylor.

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